20 January 2008

Survivor: India

After a few decades of avoiding the real world and shuttling from university to university, the dreaded combination of having graduated, having a job, and going to India with the parents unfolded recently in my life.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the dread is that of having every single person you meet ask you when you are going to jump into the same well that they have been pushed into... i.e. that of wedded bliss. Protestations of "but I'm married to my dog, camera, job, sports, writing (not necessarily in that order)" are brushed aside as mere frivolities with a practiced slap. In this modern era, if you don't show any interest in any of the women that are mentioned, people start to arrange meetings with boys of a suitable nature. Anything is better than the state of half-civilisation that most single guys live in.

There may be some advantages to tying el knot... but none of the ones that are mentioned seem to make any sense... for example, one popular one was that once in the 40s, 50s or 70s no girls will present themselves. Therefore one must think ahead and marry now just in case the desire hits after retirement and cannot be fulfilled. Hmmm.... 30 years of being trained to be mature, responsible, well-dressed and civilised so that one desire that you may or may not have can be fulfilled. Yeah I'm totally convinced. Another popular reason was that once you get old you will be lonely. It is of course possible... but given the sudden interest of both genders to work and have a certain standard of living, even if it comes at the expense of the spouse, there's no guarantee that marriage will result in not being lonely at age 101. So procreation is about the only reason for marriage... and that's not too good a reason given my country's projected rate of growth (1.1 billion and counting).

So... as a wise person once said, the only good reason for marriage is when you can't not. But in the meantime I can run around trying to avoid for as long as possible. So here are some statements that may work in keeping any wannabe in-laws from ever considering you as potential:

1. Hand out copies of "The God Delusion" by Dawkins. Atheism is much worse than being a jobless alcoholic mysogynist.

2. Make it very clear that you have no intention of ever stopping studying. Most in-laws don't like it if their future son-in-law starts to say things like... postdoc... another masters... money? what do I need that for?

3. Repeat the national pledge multiple times in front of them - "India is my country, all Indians are my brothers and sisters." Then ask for rakhees from the daughters.

4. Ask them to read your blog, especially the entries that mention drinks, doggie relatives, and in my case, dangerous viruses... also this post.

5. Casually mention references to when you were in the hospital for "special care." Point out where the sides of your head were shaved... for the electrodes.

6. Mention that in the future you will be based in Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia... taking viral samples from sick people to do research on or change job descriptions as required.

If the would-be in-law/matchmaker hasn't run further than 100m from you at this point, then that's a person you could be married to...

(for all the potential in-law's out there, this post is meant to be taken deadly seriously... for everyone else it's an example of attempted humour).